Choosing the first vegetables is important, and quality is just as important. Slowly introduce vegetables one by one. Squashes, carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow and green beans and green peas are a good start. Serve one veggie exclusively for four to five days before introducing a new one. For your baby, this is an ideal time to get used to the vegetable, and it’s the best time for you to check for food reactions. Don’t forget to make the vegetables into liquid purees when starting out.
Just like with cereal, start with small quantities of about 3ml to 5ml (½ to 1 teaspoon) of one type of vegetable, served at lunch and dinner times with the cereals. Slowly increase from 5ml to 15ml (1 to 3 teaspoons) at every meal, until your child is satiated. Not mixing the veggies together allows your child to fully appreciate each one’s particular taste.
Beware of nitrates
Nitrates are found in the ground water where our vegetables grow. Consequently, we find them in our vegetables, and most specifically in carrots, beats, turnips and spinach. For babies under 6 months of age, nitrates can be harmful because they are hard to eliminate. You should wait until your baby is nine months old to give him beats, turnips and spinach because their nitrate concentration is high.
However, carrots can be given at 7 months as one of the first vegetables because they are most babies’ favourite veggie. When making homemade purees, boil carrots in a lot of water and don’t use the cooking water (which now contains nitrates) to make your purees. By introducing your baby to a large variety of vegetables, you will help him develop his taste buds and accept new foods, mixes and textures. You can start adding fruits to your baby’s diet about two to three weeks after introducing vegetables.
It’s normal for your child to be reluctant to try new foods. You must be persistent because your child must discover different flavours from the ones he already knows. Don’t forget that you are shaping your child’s attitude towards food, and this attitude will stick throughout his life. Don’t give up, you will win in the long run.
Like vegetables, fruits are full of vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in fibre, which helps with the elimination of stools. If your baby suffers from constipation due to the formula and added iron, don’t be surprised if everything is resolved once you start adding fruits and vegetables to your baby’s diet. You must choose ripe fruits, serve them soft, cooked or as a puree.
The reason for serving fruits after vegetables is because their sweet taste makes them more popular amongst babies. By introducing fruits into their diet first, babies become picky to vegetables.
Just like with veggies, the fruit choices are important in the child’s diet. Quality is key if you want to get the most vitamins.
Don’t forget that during the colder seasons, fruits are mostly imported. To get most of the fruit’s benefits, put the fruit in a brown paper bag and let it ripen in a dark room in the house.
Cooked apples and pears, peaches, apricots and very ripe crushed bananas are the first fruits to introduce into your child’s diet. Don’t add sugar to your purees. The fruits’ natural sugars are sweet enough.
Once these fruits are integrated into your child’s diet, you can introduce all the other fruits, berries, strawberries, blueberries, mangos, etc. To reduce the risk of food allergies, avoid introducing kiwis before your child is 12 months old. Give one fruit at a time (during four to five days) before introducing a new variety. Observe your child’s reaction to each fruit and give him enough time to get used to the new food. In the beginning, cook and crush the fruit into a very smooth puree.